Annual Invasion of the Best European Clubs in LA… Man Utd Open Training (with Pics)

Every summer LA is invaded by the, “top,” European clubs in preseason training… It has now expanded well beyond LA too.

Currently Manchester United and Real Madrid are training here and the Rangers (Scotland) were here last week.    Last night Man Utd held an open training at the Rose Bowl, where they play the Galaxy tonight.

Tickets were $20 for general admission or $300 for front row and player access for autographs.  That looked like a disorganized, unmitigated mess.

This was either Louis van Gaal’s first or second training session with the team and lord is he lively.  At one point, he was either giving directions during the scrimmage session or working on his required cheer routine for his varsity try-outs.

Additionally, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney are adorable together.. like toddle buddies at preschool.  Very sad that I missed getting a picture of them walking arms around either’s shoulder.  Also  the team goalies look like quads… all same size, shape, coloring.

You can tell it was early, early pre-season training.. everyone seemed rusty

Here are a few pics and the 250+ more can be found at my flickr page.

Taylor Twellman is Right and Wrong on Concussions (LONG READ)

Trust me, I get where Taylor Twellman is coming from, I totally do… Hell, I have the CT-scans to prove it, but…

First a little history about me… according to the emergency room staff of the Washington Hospital Center, I almost died from a two concussions sustained in a 24 hour period during college.  One night I was hanging out in some friends’ dorm suite lounging against the wall, using one of their pillows, talking.  One of my friend’s wanted her pillow back so she pulled it straight up behind me…  The electrical outlets were not flush with the wall.  When the pillow was removed quickly without me being prepared the base of my skull slammed into the jetted outlet box.  My eyes dilated and I never lost consciousness so it was not really thought of as a big deal.

The next evening, I was back in their room where a bunch of us were watching a movie.  The girl who pulled the pillow was laying on her bed, I was laying on the floor on a red folding chair beds things next to her bed.  She dropped to remote between the wall and her bed which was a traditional steel-framed dorm provided one on rollers.   She pushed her bed away from the wall to retrieve the remote, the side of my head was exactly level with the steel frame.

From what I have been told, the metal frame slammed into the side of my head with force.  I do not remember it or the concussion tests or claiming that I did not want to go to the hospital but, “take me to McDonald. I just want McDonalds.”  I have no memory of it but have reconstructed parts of it from those that were there that night.  Apparently my eyes did not dilate, no idea if I answered the standard concussion questions correctly or if they were even asked.  Cannot tell you how I got to the hospital or got checked in at the ER.

The only thing I vaguely remember is walking up to what I still think is a pedestaled circular nurses’ station in the middle of the ER.  Now, I should note that I have been in that ER a lot and that nurses’ station has never existed there but it is what my mind continues to believe happened. I basically lost all track of time that night.  I have no concept to this day about how long it took to get to the ER, how long I was in the ER or how long I was there when I walked up to the nurses’ station.  I do not even have the slightest idea if anyone was there with me or not.

My memories are very hazy of the conversation with the nurse but I remember asking if she had something I could use to vomit in because I was horribly nauseated (I do not remember feeling anything even nauseated).  I remember saying that I understood it would be a while before I was seen so a bucket would be fine. It was public hospital in DC and they regularly treated gunshot wounds, knifings, and other level 1 trauma so waiting was expected.  Not sure that I was really cognitively able to understand that though and then the nurse asking why I was there..

No idea what I said but my next memory is very fleeting of me flying down the hallway on a gurney.  No idea how I got on the gurney or how long it was from talking to the nurse to being on the gurney.   I do not remember the gurney stopping or route it took or where we ended up.  Next I remember laying on a table (could have been the gurney, no idea) and something about CT-Scans.  I know in retrospect that I had CT-Scans of my head.  Yet, with a barrel of a shotgun to me chest, I would never be able to say definitively I underwent one.

Later I found out the CT-Scan showed two concussions in the two parts of my brain that I hit in those 24 or so hours.  I also found out that being nauseated with a concussion is VERY bad and is often a prelude to imminent death.  Good times… and that is why this is such a huge and under-respected injury.

It seems that I was there for hours and had several concussion exams… few tests have I ever failed miserably as the Glasgow Coma that night.  For the record, I also have no memory of the laying on the gurney, if I did,  for the next several hours or a drop of treatment I received that night.  I do not remember being cleared to go home or going back to my dorm.   I do not know if people watched me overnight (they did).  In short, I remember literally almost nothing about the experience and those memories I do have my not be accurate at all.

Hours of my life which were very dramatic are a complete blank to me.  It is a very odd sensation.  For a period of time after, I had headaches and other symptoms.  I understand what concussions can do to a person.. they can kill or at least really mess with your health and sense of reality.

My point in telling this is so you understand that I respect the work Taylor is doing to bring traumatic brain injury prevention in soccer to the forefront. It is very important work and he understands the costs concussions can have on a life more than most.   I simply disagree about his desired proposals.

That is simply an absurdly wrong approach.  It is a elitist, Bugatti Veyron yet simplistic and highly insufficient solution to a problem that is much more universally Ford Focus in breadth.

It is not that I think head injuries are not serious; of course, I do.  It is that I think this suggestion is absurd in practice.

I get why on the surface he thinks it would be a perfect solution.   He lives/played in a world of elite soccer but this problem spreads across all levels of the soccer pitch.  For example, under this plan where FIFA changes the law and there now must be an independent doctor on the sideline at every match, a few questions initially popped into my head:

    • Who picks the doctor?
    • Using what criteria?
    • Who pays for that doctor’s time?
    • Does the doctor have to be specialists in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?  Board Certified?
    • What happens if independent doctor’s opinion differs from the team doctor’s opinion?
    • What happens if the doctor is late or called-up on an emergency, does the match just stop?
    • Would they have to be certified as TBI experts by FIFA? Controlling Confederation? The National Association?

These are a few of the basic questions for a proposed solution only covering the elite profession level at best potentially.  This approach is myopic at best.

Yes, I understand that part of this is him trying in vain to save his own career but in spearheading this issue, he needs to be a better leader for ALL those suffering.  That means thinking beyond what would have just saved his career.  He has to think and advocate for what will save other’s careers and lives.

I understand that I am basing this entire debate on a single tweet from Taylor (and hearing many of his televised comments on it).  I assumed there would be a more detailed explanation and/or much more formulated proposals on the website of his highly touted charity Think Taylor.

After searching the website top-to-bottom, I found very little information increasing concussion awareness,  what to do in the event a player sustains what may be a concussion, nothing on his proposals for change including any mention of an independent physician on the sidelines every game, but a lot of opportunities to donate though no information on how the collected funds are spent.   The same is true for its social media pages.  This tweet (and his others) and his televised discussions are all he’s provided.

The reality is concussions are a massive problem at all levels of soccer, especially at least in the US, for girls and women.  The Washington Post had an article last April, entitled, “Reducing the number of concussions in high school girls’ soccer is a daunting task  The lead girl profiled suffered 5 CONFIRMED concussion by the time she graduated high school.  YES FIVE.

This is where the main problem I have with Taylor’s approach is two-fold:

A) Schools, school districts, school conferences, AYSO, et al will never be able to get, let alone pay for an independent physicians trained in diagnosing TBI on the fly to be at every match conducted.  It is simply logically and logistically impossible. You have made it impossible for any group/school/team of players to play any organized matches.  Could it happen at a professional/elite level? maybe.. but even then finding physicians available and willing to work matches is a logistical nightmare.

B)  Secondly it removes responsibility from the coaches and the team’s leadership to take appropriate care of their players.  While watching the Final yesterday,  Chairman and Investor-Operator of the Columbus Crew Anthony Precourt tweeted this at the Kramer concussion incident.

I replied to his tweet with this simple question

Berhalter is of course his head coach, Greg Berhalter and I am still waiting for an answer.  If he, as the team’s owner/chairman of a professional team, does not demand automatic substitution for potential concussion standard of care then he has no place entering the discussion.  If he feels that it was wrong for Low and Kramer, how can it be correct for his own players?   I am very curious as what his position is on the topic when it is his own team’s championship on the line.

During the World Cup, FIFA came under tremendously harsh criticism for multiple players continuing to play in matches after being knocked out.  I honestly think that outrage is horribly misdirected.  Yes, absolutely, FIFA has a major role to solving the issue.  I disagree though that change must come down via edict from them.

The option to have an independent physician is clearly not sustainable from an organizational and financial standpoint for the vast majority of matches played.  This is a problem universe to soccer (and most other sports) at ALL ages, not just the super elite level.   More than that, it is highly insufficient to provide protections to players.

If this plan, or the similar plan requiring mandatory substitutions of players in match, becomes law how quickly does opposing players stop kicking shins or trying to stomp legs to get an advantage and start bashing heads?  This mandatory order simply puts a Vegas worthy neon bullseye on players’ heads.  If you want the opposing team’s best player out of the game, bash his head… It is a much more dangerous way then simply sweeping the leg a la The Karate Kid.  This is one of the unintentional negative consequence of these good-hearted proposals.

Secondarily, removing a team’s leadership and medical professionals in the decision-making, never solves the problem.  The revolution needs to happen in within the club structure first and foremost.   This is is the systemic change needed.

Having an independent physician 0n the sidelines for matches would only offer a player 90 minutes of protection maximum, which is a very small portion of the time players are at risk for head injuries.  Every practice offers many, many chances for a player to sustain a concussion.  What is is it roughly 6 to 1 per week on average, practices to matches? Who protects the players at all those?

If you do not first educate and change each team’s internal mindset, then players will continue to be in danger.  This is also where the FIFA, the Confederations, National Associates, state associations, and those issuing coaching licenses must lead.  Concussion reduction and proper aftercare must be a fully integrated part of the coaching curriculum. It is where they are ALL failing.

According to the US Soccer Federation, a class, “E,” coaching license is the most basic a coach can get.  It is the license class that teaches the youngest/most inexperienced players.   In USSF License E Guidebook, concussions are only covered in a single pre-course assignment (as far as I can tell), not covered at all in a three day course or listed in their “TEAM MANAGEMENT “TOP 10” SAFETY GUIDELINES.   Here is the full course curriculum which is HIGHLY detailed but lacks any focus on player safety an this is where for that course you have to find reference to concussion, not mention if you actually must complete it and there is no formal grading of it.  It does not seem to gain much more coverage the higher up the coaching ladder you move…

This is the crux of the problem…  if coaches are not trained concussion awareness is important, they will not treat it as important.  Changing the way we educate coaches is the ONLY way, change comes.

The proposals, like Taylor’s and others, that attempt to remove team selection from the coach will backfire.  It will but, what it will not do is protect players.   They won’t be protected in training or playing matches after sustaining concussion in training.  If there is an announced automatic policy in place to force players out of matches with TBI, those players heads become primary targets.  I am not saying they should play with head injuries, of course.. simply that giving extra incentive to intentionally cause TBI’S to remove a player is not the answer either.

Educating coaches concussion awareness and proper handling means teaching coaches that concussions and TBI are the same as any other match ending injury.    Placing them on par with other physical injuries elevates them to “reality” in coaches’ eyes.  At present, they are not a big deal now..  think about this…

It must be on the team’s board, owners, directors, presidents, or whatever group/person oversees the coach to demand that team’s medical professionals make those decisions and get coaches are in full agreement.  It is Precourt’s  responsibility, first and foremost, to institute those requirements and procedures in within the structure of the team.  It cannot be imposed from outside. 

Joachim Low didn’t hesitate to sub Sami Khadira for a hamstring injury because to Low that was a, “real,” injury that negatively impacts his team’s performance.  Christoph Kramer’s concussion was not viewed as probably negatively impacting Germany’s chances until it was possibly too late for Kramer.   Low and the like need to be reeducated.

What is worse is all the kids and their coaches watching Kramer, Pereira, Mascherano and the rest of the players who play through concussions, not think it is cool.. or manly… or required.  Low at the opportunity to  do much more than simply win a World Cup, but the chance to save many lives and careers.  He did it only when forced to do it.  That is not good enough… that is where change must occur.

Let’s hope Low didn’t end Kramer’s career …  Kramer is on record as not remembering  much of the World Cup Final.. dude, been there; I feel ya..

 

 ** UPDATED With TAYLOR’S RESPONSE***

Here is to Title IX, Sexist’s Problems and The 99ers

All day yesterday, I had been trying to write about how much love and admiration I have for the greatest soccer team, America has ever produced.  The 1999 Women’s World Cup Team.. it was the 15th anniversary of their stunning penalty taking triumph.

I was not sure what to say, or even what was left to say..  in 15 years, not much was left to debate, discuss, dissect.  Sure I could have written a flowery piece about how much watching the ladies play in the Quarterfinals shaped me or the feeling of dread bordering on tears at Brandi’s own goal followed up by my relief at her redemption in tying the match or my unbridled, emotional meltdown at Joy’s game winner, which I do not recall being spectacular stylistically but it was perfect.    Surviving the knock-out round after a disastrous start with 54,000 or so people watching still makes me tingle with pride and joy.

I could have talked about the final.. Michelle Akers, the greatest soccer player America has ever produced, (sorry Landon, it’s not even close) being forced to leave the pitch injured.   If you doubt it ask FIFA, they named her Women’s Player of the Century.  Her male counter-parts are Pele and Maradonna sharing the title.  She also won FIFA Order of Merit the highest honor in world soccer.  She is also of course in the US Soccer Hall of Fame.  Basically she is EVERY PART OF AWESOME AND BADASS..  [note her twitter feed is as AMAZING as she is.  She is a must follow].    Did I mention for those of you who don’t know.. she did it while battling Lime Disease, for which there were not a lot of treatment options at the time.  Or there was Kristine Lilly’s perfect world cup saving header off the line, Briana’s penalty stop or Brandi and celebration of the century.

But even those things have been done before..  Nothing really captured what I wanted to say about them.  Then twitter blew up last night because a lacrosse and soccer sportswear Warrior manufacturer (a subsidiary of New Balance) decided to let their sexist flag high and proud.

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and then doubled-down.. with a tweet about how there are more women’s lacrosse programs in school than men’s and how that was also a #TitleIXProblem and the added #inequality.. no seriously, they did.  They actually did and have yet to apologize.   At least they did finally delete the tweets about about two hours.

In that two hours, two thinks struck me… first most of the people ripping them apart in response and outraged (at least at the beginning were young guys).  They were as outraged and furious as I or any of my feminist girlfriends were, maybe more so.. they were pissed.  Seriously they stepped up.   Here are a few..

My friend Aristeia summed the situation up best..

She is not wrong.. it totally is.. My second thought was this…

It is true… the great single moment in the history of Title IX was the USWNT winning the World Cup at home in front of 90,000 fans in the stands and millions watching around the world.  That entire team was raised as the first generation of Title IX babies where girls/women’s athleticism was equally celebrated, encouraged and required.

Yes, they won the title in 1991 and the Olympics in 1996 but this was wholly different.  That night in the stands I was with my then boyfriend who I had to drag to go..  girls playing soccer was not exactly high on his baseball scholarship earning list of priorities… that night was magical.. yes for the win and for the drama but for something much more simply and yet powerful.

I looks at him and said, ” My god all the little kids, girls and boys, are wearing Mia jerseys?”  He was completely lost on why this was a big deal.  He  had been to hundreds of sporting events and you always wore your team’s jersey to him.  I had been too many too but like him, they had ALL been male teams competing against male teams.  They jerseys were for male athletes.

This tournament has to be the first time in history that a stadium full of people were watching, “girls,” while WEARING THE JERSEY OF A GIRL PLAYER.  Little boys were running not even understanding what the revolution they were leading..  Those little boys and girls watching the 1999ers then are now leading the first against sexism in sports as evidenced by their response to Warrior’s madness.  Those boys 15 years later are just accustom to women being athletic as part of norm life.

Now of course, there are many guys (and girls sadly) who agreed with he company but many, many, many more did it.  Myself and many, people I know have contacted both warrior and its parent company New Balance (a company I have ALWAYS loved for their corporate responsibility) to complain.  From reports back, New Balance is taking it seriously even if their subsidiary is not.  Warrior apparently was getting hammered today with complaint calls.. after all sexism is bad and bad for business.

The Washington Post’s Des Bieler wrote an article on this matter entitled, “Warrior sports apparel company offers lessons in anti-social media.”  In it he writes, that  Warrior posted an apologycap

Here is the thing… it is not on their Twitter Timeline..  there is zero hint of an apology that anyone I have seen has seen.   But good lord in even, their website is a misogynist’s wet dream..  SERIOUSLY THESE ARE ACTUALLY ON THEIR website...  basically the company motto is, “women not worthy to sell to but totally worthy to sell.” Apparently slavery and human trafficking are comic gold in the lacrosse world.

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Now looking father back into their Timeline is this masterpiece of not at all rape-culture promoting marketing masterpiece

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Cross the line is their ad campaign…

There is an amazing irony and symmetry in this happening on the 15th Anv of the 1999er winning the World Cup or more appropriately, Title IX’s great single success.

Ultimately what I have come to understand is this.. the true power of Title IX is not teaching girls that being athletic, competitive, strong, determined, self-confident and all the other positive things girls get from sports; it is teaching the boys as well that girls are all of those things and to fight with girls to protect girls’ right to play too.

Thanks to the 92 Congress for passing Title IX, thanks to all the subsequent Congresses who reauthorized it. Thanks to the 199ers for always making us proud and thanks to the guys who stand with women in the fight for equality, thanks to you most of all.  As Aristeia said so perfectly, “love the guys on my TL that understand they can be masculine and a feminist. And it’s sexy as hell.”

Now we are 329 Days Away from the 2015 Women’s World Cup.. come on ladies… let’s bring home finally what is rightfully ours.  For yourselves, for your country, for the 1999ers who paved your way and for the sexist dbags would still try to stand in your way.

Soccherblog’s Soccer School – The Club Structure

Clubs work like professional sports team in any sports.   They are businesses who employ players to play against other teams like any traditional sports team.

It willl probably be easiest if I go from region to region by their confederations.

Everything in Elite level soccer is first organized by FIFA which is soccer/futbal/football’s global governing body. They put on the World Cup and the World Club Cup, etc.

Next level down are the Confederation, which are geographically based on continents.  There are 6 different recognized Confederations:  CONCACAF, UEFA, CONMEBOL, CAF (Africa), Asian Football Confederation and Oceania Federation.  They are each responsible for organizing World Cup Qualification and other regionally based intra-regional tournaments for their member nations and overseeing intra-regional club tournaments within their jurisdiction.

The Confederations are made of individual country members. The countries run tournaments based within each nation and oversee leagues within their country.

Leagues are where clubs play within a country.   That is a little explanation of confederations and their roles. I am only going to focus on the top leagues in a country. They also have lower leagues which replicate much of the same things.

IMPORTANT BIT OF INFO: Many Countries’ club leagues structured on a multi-layered vertical league concept.   Because of this there is a concept called promotion/relegation in effect.    This is where the bottom teams in an upper league at the end of the season lose their right to stay in that league and are dropped to the league directly below. The top winning teams in the lower league are promoted up to top league as reward.    This way it always stays at the same number of teams but allows fresh blood into the leagues.

 CONCACAF [North America, Central America & Caribbean]

The two main leagues are MLS and Liga Mx, which are based in US/Canada and Mexico respectively.

Major League S0ccer -  They are a league made up of 20 or so clubs (changing a lot because new clubs are being created/joining) with a regular season where clubs play each other and accumulate points based on the system above. The one with the most points at the end of the season wins the Supporters’ Shield.

It is broken up into east and west teams (“conferences”) and the top 5-6 teams based on points move to a play-off format. They play home and away so that each team has home field advantage during the round and it can go into extra time and penalties. The ultimate winner wins the MLS Cup which played at the home of the finalist with the highest regular season points total.
There is no promotion/relegation. The season runs early March to MLS Cup final in early December.

Liga MX is the top Mexican League. It has 18 teams who play each other. They do have promotion/relegation ad play-offs as well. I think they just changed some of their rules on them and I am not as up-to-date on the changed yet.

CONCACAF Champions League (CCL)

This is a CONCACAF wide (an organized) tournament in addition to league play where the winner of the leagues (and a few other things) play each other to determine Club supremacy in the Confederation.  The winner gets to play in the World Club Cup

 

UEFA [Union of European Footballing Associations]

UEFA cover the European countries as well as coordinate the two intra-European club tournaments: The Champions’ League and the Europa League.   The Champions’ League is almost universally considered the most prestigious and hardest to earn club level trophy in the World. It is an annual competition that Real Madrid won it last year. The Europa League is the inter-UEFA tournament for second best sort of teams.

Their leagues run from late August to Early May/June for the most part (with a few exceptions).  They all have promotion/relegation.

Top Five Leagues in Europe are La Liga (Spain), Barclay’s/English Premier League (England), Serie A (Italy), Bundesliga (Germany) and Ligue Un (France) in no order here but it is a topic that is hotly and continually debated.

LA LIGA Biggest Teams: Real Madrid and Barcalona. When they play, it is called “El Clasico.” They are considered widely the best league from a quality of play standpoint. They also have some serious issues with racism.

BPL/EPL Biggest Teams: Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United. This is European league that Americans, generally, are most familiar and have easiest access. Every league match is broadcast live in the States.

SERIE A Biggest Teams: Juventus and AC Milan. This is one of the leagues which is starting to grow in American viewership but access is still random. It has become my favorite to watch recently but they also have some serious issues with racism.

BUNDESLGA Biggest Teams: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. This league was nearly impossible to watch in the US unless their teams were in the Champions League. That will change not this season about to start but the next season when the rights move from GolTV to Fox Sports.

LIGUE UN Biggest Team: Paris Saint-Germain. I do not know a lot about the league because access has been restricted in the US until last season really. It is very much up and coming back. I am just learning and will learn more soon.
CONMEBOL, CAF and Asian Football Confederation and Oceania Federation

I honestly don’t know enough to speak authoritatively about them individually.   There is every little broadcast coverage for the most part. You can catch games here or there but not as consistently as I would like. The reality is much of the leagues contained here are feeder leagues for UEFA club teams.

CONMBOL Copa Libertadores -  South American club champions league tournament. It is really spectacular to watch with a lot of young/will be future global stars. It is a place that European scouts mine for gold.

 

WORLD CLUB CUP is the FIFA international tournament that has the winner of the Asian AFC Champions League, African CAF Champions League, North American CONCACAF Champions League, South American Copa Libertadores, Oceanian OFC Champions League or European UEFA Champions League.   They play single elimination matches with overtime and penalties in December of each year

Soccherblog’s Soccer School – International Tournaments.

With the bandwagon growth of soccer over the last few weeks, I have been asked a ton of questions about who things are structured so this series is my attempt to do just that.  This started as an answer on a messageboard from a new fans and than others started asking questions.  I decide to achieve them here. Starting at the elite/professional (male) level there are two kinds of teams:

Club Teams – which is the one that plays week-in, week-out for a season. They are teams who employ the players and play in organized leagues

Country Team that is the players play in for international competitions. You can only play for a country that you are eligible to obtain a passport (you must actually get a passport for the Country you want play for).

The World Cup is an international competition organized by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) which is a global supreme controlling body of soccer.

The World Cup actually exists in 3 stages (this is also true for most international tournaments):            

          *   Qualifications - as it sounds it is the qualifying process to win a place at the World Cup.  It can take up to 3 years, and are played between teams in the same geographical/Continental region. The US is in what is called CONCACAF and made up of North & Central America and the Caribbean countries.                

          *  Group Play - Once the final 32 teams qualify for the World Cup there is a weighted draw to determine each group.  The group is the first three matches each team plays in the World Cup.  Each member of the group plays the others and accumulates points based on how they did. The top two teams advance to the knockout round.                

          *  Knockout Play – Once the 16 teams are determined by winning or coming in second in that group, they teams left single elimination matches to determine who moves on to the next round.

The first team in one group plays the second team in the next group and so on. It goes on like that until one team is left standing at the end of the final match. For Clubs’ regular league play, for international competition for qualification and the group stages of most tournments the points system is 3 points for a win; 1 point for a tie; 0 points for a loss. At the end of the match (there is no “overtime”) you collect your points and the end of the league/group stage you count up up the points you earned and total them. There are also different tiebreakers established like goal difference, head-to-head or goals scored in those events.

For the knockout rounds, someone has to win and someone has to lose so you play regulation and still tied, you go to overtime. World Cup and most elite Competitions use a full 30 minutes of OT and if still tied, it goes to the dreaded penalties. There are some different rules on waiting goals’ value in certain competitions but that is unnecessary right now.

The difference between overtime and extra time is this.. All stoppages in play must be made up so a full 90 minutes (or 30 of OT is played)so the ref keeps track of how much time is wasted and at the end of each half of all matches awards “extra time” that will make up for that half’s lost time. That is why there is such a wide variance in extra time decisions because it is dictated on the time lost in that half. Overtime is overtime as in any sport.

THANKS TO THE BOYS, TO KLINNS AND USSF

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Julian Green Following DaMarcus Beasley.. The Past, present and future… we are going to be fine

To My Beloved USMNT

Thank you for going above and beyond any and all expectations.  For not only surviving but thriving under the worst World Cup conditions, with travel, temps, and a deathly group of opponents.

Thank you for uniting yourselves as one team, uniting America in soccer madness and for uniting the world into believing WE ARE A SOCCER NATION AND CAN PLAY WITH THE BIG BOYS BECAUSE ARE ARE THE BIG BOYS.

Mostly thank you for overachieving and doing with style, grace and gritty Americaness… For that, we are all grateful.

No one gave you a chance, even to your face.  I didn’t either but I saw the potential in what this squad could be and why it is the right team.  I still do but now so does everyone else.

USSF did not believe it was possible to get out of the group after the draw; so it gave Jugan a contract extension and free reign to do whatever he wanted.  He wanted the 23 of you.

Some of you guys individually suffered attacks on your, “Americaness,” or patriotism and responded by sacrificing your hearts, souls and even your blood.

Some you guys were condemned because you were not a, “superstar,” or the traditional, “face of US Soccer.”  No, you’re not the, “traditional American soccer,” anything, you are just the real face of America: dedicated, hard working, with the “never giving up, never giving in & always give your all,” united, fair, who represent all Americans, white, black, Hispanic, Native American, and mixes.

You have given us your all, time and time again..  and this one time gave way more than ANYONE expected or believed you could. You left every part of you on the pitch in the fight to advance for that we all win.

A Special Thank You to those that have already dedicated so much to the programs..

To RUN DMB and his 4 World Cups which was foolishly and inexcusable ignored in favor of  bitching about one who didn’t go and honestly, wasn’t missed.

To St. Timmy of the Sticks, You are America.. You are simply the face of American Soccer: tats, smiles and hands and all..

Thanks Klinnsy.  You did what you had to do and got this team to do more than anyone thought was possible.  Lord I was not pleased at your selection but I was catastrophically wrong. I apologize.

Thank you Sunil and USSF for letting Klinnsy do what needed to be done and paying the bills.. oh and marketing your asses off.. [I EXPECTED SIMILAR TREATMENT FOR THE LADIES NEXT SUMMER FYI]

Now to the rest of your…..

Chris Wondo tweeted this last night..

That is America right there… “I screwed up,” (a debatable point if he or the linesman screwed up), “I take responsibility and I am sorry.”   There is no, “superstar,” ego there.  Just honesty and passion.

Like every other minute of this team’s time together.. his boys have his back.

That is what this team is… All Heart, All Soul, All In It Together..and ALL AMERICAN.

What they are is what they were at the start of last month a bunch of kids who needed to get experience and a group of Rudys who would teach them, not tactical lessons, but the intangibles about teamwork, spirit, discipline, mental focus and desire.

We leave this team a month later who new faces of US Soccer, a future of unparalleled talent: Julian is 19, DeAndre Yeddlin is 20, John Brooks is 21.  We are going to be fine.. soccer-wise. Just fine and the world better be ready…

What could have gone better in this Cup run.. honestly, literally nothing.. a loss to Belgium on a last minute brilliant kicksave but arguably the top keeper in the world is best way to go out..  After beating death all that was left was potentially getting crushed by Argentina, which does not help grow the program at all

The Belgium game was perfect way to establish the future..

Fabian goes down, and Yedlinny (that was Jules calls him but he needs something better) goes in and man’s up. He happened the pressure, the responsibility like a pro. He made some mistakes but so did everyone else.

Julian, who god knows I think that there were 5 of us including Klinnsy, Julian’s dad and me that were happy he was on the team in the first place.  The amount of hate/trolly tweets about him coming on were astronomical.  I just kept saying what I am saying here, “The Future is Now” and he handled the pressure fairly well or spectacularly.   That goal was pretty, so, so, so pretty and his first touch in a WORLD CUP.

Between Now and Russia 2018.. we have 2 Gold Cups (2015 & 2017), possible ConFed Cup play-off match, ConFed Cup, Olympics and Copa America 2016 on the Calendar.  [Plus Women's team matches]..

If you jumped the bandwagon, grab one of the newly empty seats and get comfy because it will only get better from here.